New York-based George Inaki Root is the CEO and Creative Director at Milamore. He’s a newcomer to fine jewelry and designs pieces that are influenced by his Japanese-Filipino heritage and connect with the emotions and experiences of his wearers. I have a conversation with him about his cofounding the brand with Azusa Yamato, and why he chose to make his jewels in Japan.
When and how did you first become interested in jewelry?
Although I don’t understand why, I have always been fascinated by precious gemstones that comic book heroes and villains battle over since childhood. When I was twenty years old, I was a sales associate in a jewelry store for two years. This was when I learned all about jewelry. A decade later, Azusa, my friend and cofounder, approached me and asked me to create a brand. That’s how Milamore was born! Azusa is a descendant of a family jewel business. We can therefore make beautiful, high-quality jewelry handcrafted in Japan.
What companies were you employed in before you started your jewelry business?
Since 2014, I have been working for myself. This also happens to be the same year that I moved from Japan into New York. I worked in digital PR and branding to connect the Japanese market with international brands like Chanel and Armani Beauty. Japan is a very unique market. My clients required someone who could not only understand the Japanese market but also had an international background to maintain the headquarters branding. It was great fun. I met incredible people and saw so much. I was able to see the glamour of fashion through Chanel, Dior and Hermes shows. But I’m passionate about what I do now and love that I’m building an international luxury brand.
Please describe to me your design philosophy and language. Quels are your sources for inspiration?
My life experiences and the people I’ve met are the sources of my inspiration. I enjoy hearing people’s stories and trying to understand their experiences. This is for me very motivating.
How do you approach materials?
Although we only use 18K, I would love to explore platinum. All of our stones are natural. I love the idea of wearing Mother Earth’s gifts and “borrowing” their shine to make us look more glamorous and powerful through jewelry.
What innovations are you incorporating in your jewelry-making?
It is rare to make jewelry in Japan, if you really think about it. However, I believe in Japanese craftsmanship. I also love to communicate with my artisans. Milamore is their favorite job, despite having decades of experience. I am happy to hear they are proud to work with us as we grow rapidly internationally. Supporting Japan’s jewelry industry is for me innovative.
What is your approach to making jewelry that’s not traditional? How can you distinguish yourself from other jewelry brands
My artisans often tell me that my vision is unusual and full of surprises. Perhaps because I come from the fashion industry, my style of jewelry is unique. For example, I love to mix yellow and white gold. It wasn’t common to do this before, and many people still prefer to wear one color of metal. However, I find it fun to mix them! Even though the Kintsugi philosophy has been around for centuries, my Kintsugi collection feels new. Because everyone has a story, the idea is that the wearer completes a design. To me, beauty is found in imperfections.